The Dutchman saw two of his major competitors fall out of qualifying by the end of Q2, with Charles Leclerc not setting a time given his grid penalty, and his team-mate Sergio Perez crashing into the barriers at turn three and unable to recover his car.
Nevertheless, Verstappen and Red Bull still needed to be perfect to fend off threats from Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and, surprisingly, Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, which had shown promising pace all weekend long, in both dry and wet conditions, and confirmed that with a second place staring position, alongside Verstappen on the front row of the grid.
Speaking after qualifying, Verstappen emphasised the importance of a clean, smooth session from him and his team in order to secure pole position on a day where many fell by the wayside due to the very wet and unpredictable conditions of the track:
“I think today, with the tricky conditions, we stayed calm, we didn’t make mistakes, and we had the right calls in Q3 – of course super happy with that, to get pole position here,” he said.
Verstappen said he does not expect Sunday’s race to be “straightforward”, even after a spectacular qualifying performance and with some of his main rivals down the order. “Of course, I still expect it not to be a straightforward race,” he added.
After an absence of two seasons due to the pandemic, the return of the Canadian GP is one the world champion very much welcomes, as he praised the “go-karting” nature of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, with its “proper curves” making him look forward to driving again on Sunday:
“Also, to be back here in Montreal, it’s been a while and it’s great to see all the fans.
“You really get that kind of like go-karting sensation, with real proper curves around here, we always enjoy driving here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Verstappen concluded.